PM denies breaking integrity bill promise

Protesters are demanding a federal integrity commission as Scott Morrison attributes delay to Labor.
Protesters are demanding a federal integrity commission as Scott Morrison attributes delay to Labor.

Scott Morrison says legislation for a federal anti-corruption body has not been brought before parliament due to Labor's lack of support.

With just 10 parliamentary sitting days before a potential May election, the prime minister was asked if he was prepared to go to the polls having broken his 2019 election promise.

Mr Morrison said he did not accept that characterisation, pointing to the proposed commonwealth integrity commission which had gone to public consultation.

"We have developed a model for an integrity commission, we have allocated funding for it, we have a 349-page set of legislation to do that," he said.

"We have said very plainly that we would like to take this through on a bipartisan basis, and our model is not supported by the Labor party."

Asked whether his proposed watchdog could look at questionable immigration visa decisions by a minister, the prime minister accused the opposition of "weaponising" the anti-corruption commission.

"It's important the integrity commission ... not be used and weaponised for the sort of political stunts and game playing that we're seeing here from the Labor party."

Labor senator Katy Gallagher attacked the prime minister's logic, saying the government had routinely introduced legislation that did not have the support of the opposition.

Senator Gallagher said the government was not introducing its legislation because it did not have the numbers for the flawed bill in the upper or lower houses after coalition members crossed the floor and threatened to withhold votes.

Independent senator Rex Patrick again tried unsuccessfully to suspend the Senate's standing order to bring on debate about a tougher model of federal integrity commission on Tuesday.

The government argued against debating the issue, sparking another rousing speech by independent senator Jacqui Lambie who lambasted coalition senators for trashing the integrity of the Senate in the public's eyes.

"The reality is the Australian people believe we are corrupt up here," she said.

"That is their thought process right now, there is no trust. To them all you're doing is covering up because you don't want this (commission) to happen."

Australian Associated Press